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Jefferson County Public Library workers are first to form union under Colorado’s collective bargaining law 

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – Jefferson County Public Library workers made Colorado history last week by becoming the first group to organize a union under the state’s new collective bargaining law for county employees. The workers voted to form a union with AFSCME Council 18.   

The 350 library workers won their union election on March 7 with 81% voting yes; the vote tally was 213-62. Workers have been contending with a number of issues, including low wages and workplace safety. Safety in particular is a concern, as libraries have become ground zero in culture wars and default social service agencies.   

Workers were elated about winning a voice on the job and becoming the first to organize under the collective bargaining law, which our union fought for.  

“Library workers care so deeply about our communities. Now, with a union, we have a seat at the table to advocate for improvements so our libraries can meet the needs of our patrons and so that library jobs provide a living wage and reflect the dedication and importance of the work we do,” said Christopher Lovejoy, an adult services librarian at the Arvada branch.

“We’re proud to be the first workers to organize under the new law. We look forward to our fellow dedicated county workers across Colorado joining us for the voice on the job that we all deserve,” added Sharon Sherman, a bilingual patron experience associate at the Belmar branch.

Jefferson County library workers won their union election the same day as employees at Denver Art Museum. It became Colorado state’s first unionized art museum despite workers facing strong opposition from upper management. The museum workers are now affiliated with Council 18.

“Today was a powerful day for Colorado workers. Jefferson County workers have shown the way for the thousands of other county workers across Colorado that they, too, can win a voice on the job to improve their jobs and lives and the services they provide. DAM workers showed incredible perseverance and are an inspiration to cultural workers everywhere who may face aggressive and disgraceful anti-union tactics by management,” said Council 18 Executive Director Connie Derr, who’s also an AFSCME vice president.

The two new Colorado unions are part of AFSCME Cultural Workers United, a national movement of cultural workers at libraries, museums and zoos joining together to negotiate for better pay and working conditions, demand equity and fight for transparency in our workplaces.  AFSCME represents more cultural workers than any other union, including 10,000 museum workers at 91 cultural institutions in the public and private sectors, and more than 25,000 library workers at 275 public and private libraries.